EspañolFor those paying attention, there’s something utterly surreal about elected officials making little of the kind of message that got them elected in the first place; for everyone else, that’s just business as usual.
Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, has recently introduced legislation that would expand the Executive’s power by essentially allowing the federal government to strip anyone’s citizenship over his or her alleged support of terrorism.
The bill, which Democrats put on hold in September, is known as the Expatriate Terrorist Act. The legislation is nothing short of staggering. Cruz seeks to amend section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which already maintains that US Americans may lose their citizenship if they formally declare their allegiance to a foreign state or serve in a foreign army fighting the United States.
Considering the fondness Cruz has demonstrated at various times for the Constitution, including his famous debate on the 2nd Amendment against Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one wonders if he hasn’t lost all contact with the candidate he once appeared to be.
Terrorism: What’s In a Name?
The law in all US states is clear: murder is a crime.
Considering the fondness Cruz has demonstrated at various times for the Constitution, one wonders if he hasn’t lost all contact with the candidate he once appeared to be.
Federal law also rejects the idea that providing material assistance to terrorist organizations is OK. So why is Ted Cruz trying to expand federal government powers by allowing Obama to pick who should lose their citizenship status over alleged support of terrorism?
Does he actually trust the federal government that much?
Let’s consider the controversial case of two US citizens who were never afforded the opportunity to face their accusers in court: Anwar al-Awlaki, and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.
An FBI investigation between June 1999 and March 2000 into the alleged Al-Qaeda leader was unsuccessful. Federal investigators scrutinized Anwar al-Awlaki’s alleged ties to Hamas, Osama bin laden, and one of the 9/11 hijackers, but found no evidence. Awlaki was never charged with a crime.
Claiming a “climate of fear and intimidation,” Awlaki left the United States toward the end of 2002 with his wife and children, including Abdulrahman. In Yemen, Awlaki starred in YouTube videos asking fellow US Muslims: “How can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation that is responsible for the tyranny and crimes committed against your own brothers and sisters?”
In July 2010, the FBI accused Awlaki of threatening cartoonists who drew images of the Prophet Mohammed after he penned an article for the Al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. “It is better to support the prophet by attacking those who slander him than it is to travel to land of Jihad like Iraq or Afghanistan,” he wrote.
While Awlaki may have sounded hateful toward non-Muslims in several of his videos, the FBI and other federal agencies were never able to successfully link him to any criminal activity. On September 30, 2011, the CIA circumvented his due process protections and killed him with a drone strike.
While Awlaki may have sounded hateful toward non-Muslims in several of his videos, the FBI and other federal agencies were never able to successfully link him to any criminal activity.
A drone strike then also killed his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, on October 14, 2011, while the boy ate at a restaurant in Yemen with his cousin and other civilians.
To reiterate, neither Anwar nor Abdulrahman were ever charged with a crime prior to their deaths. Their status as citizens was not enough to guarantee them due process — a right the Constitution is supposed to guarantee to all US Americans.
Ted Cruz’s bill would effectively end this kind of protection, granting the Executive the power to revoke citizenship over vague allegations of “terrorist ties.”
Are US Americans willing to support Ted Cruz’s efforts to make the CIA’s job easier?
Give an Inch, They Take a Mile
When analyzing the Constitution, it is important to focus on what the document actually states.
When both Cruz and Hillary Clinton claim that US citizenship is a privilege and not a right, they clearly dismiss the 14th Amendment — and that is hardly the only issue with Cruz’s bill.
US Americans must not let the fear du jour obfuscate lessons from the past. It is the federal government that needs to be retrained, not individual liberties.
According to Reason columnist Steve Chapman, Ted Cruz’s bill could also violate the right to free speech, which the Constitution also guarantees.
The Supreme Court has already maintained that supportive speech could also be considered material assistance for terrorist groups. Under the Expatriate Terrorist Act, such claims would be enough for the federal government to revoke an individual’s US citizenship, increasing the federal government’s power over the individual, not restraining it.
It’s hard to believe that the Ted Cruz who stood with Rand Paul during the Kentucky senator’s filibuster in 2013 is the same man who now supports the Expatriate Terrorist Act in 2014.
The more laws legislators pass, the more difficult it becomes to restrain government. US Americans must not let the fear du jour obfuscate lessons from the past. It is the federal government that needs to be retrained, not individual liberties, for a society to remain free and secure.
Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.